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Will Facebook’s New ‘Favorites’ Feature Transform Messenger?

Facebook Pushes Microsharing With New Prototype

Social media’s pivot towards privacy has been the defining theme for 2019.

Naturally spearheaded by market-leader Facebook, following the publication of Mark Zuckerberg’s new privacy manifesto in March.

However, bringing this new vision to life will be a colossal effort, requiring an entire product redesign and the wholesale creation of new features

Not to mention, a few billion humans (and bots) to completely alter their daily habits.

Chris Cox, former Facebook Chief Product Officer

‘We are turning a new page in our product direction, focused on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network.

It’s a product vision attuned to the subject matter of today: a modern communications platform that balances expression, safety, security, and privacy.’

While that new vision is perhaps three – four years away from fruition, Facebook’s latest prototype suggests the process is slowly getting underway.

Facebook "Favorites" For Messenger

Facebook’s latest “Favorites” prototype, uncovered by app researcher Jane Manchun Wong is an early foray into microsharing within Messenger.

The new prototype enables users to designate certain friends as “Favorites”, allowing users to share Facebook Stories, or camera-based posts from Messenger, to just those friends, each in their own message thread.

How and when "Favorites" rolls out is anyone’s guess. It’s only a prototype after all.

However, the point to note is that Messenger will gradually turn into a hybrid, news feed style experience, built around Stories (and the like) for a user’s closest connections.

In effect acting as a private foil, to the more public “traditional” News Feed, see screenshots above, as was announced at Facebook F8 in May.

“We’re excited to announce that we’re going to be rolling out a dedicated space for you to easily find content from the friends and family you message most.

Content from Stories to images and videos you share with each other, along with other features we’re building right now. This product is in early stages of development, but we’re looking forward to helping you find, discover and share with the people who most matter to you.”

From a marketing perspective the future roadmap for Messenger raises a number of interesting conundrums.

  1. Will brands be able to get in their organically? Probably not
  2. Surely users will stay in Messenger, rather than the main feed? Who wouldn't
  3. How will marketers win without ads within Facebook? By collating marginal opportunities across the entire Facebook ecosystem
  4. What would this do to News Feed ad costs? Send them up
  5. How will marketers reach people at scale? Probably with ads or epic community management

Just For Close Friends

In effect, Facebook Favourites is very similar to the Close Friends feature, which launched in 2018 within Instagram.

Interesting sidenote, Instagram’s Close Friends feature was the battleground for a very high profile spat featuring a couple of Premier League WAGs two months ago.

If you’re into that sort of thing.

Instagram Close Friends also acted as the catalyst for the creation of Instagram Threads, which launched in October.

Robby Stein, Director of Product, Instagram

Over the last few years, we’ve introduced several new ways to share visually on Instagram and connect with people you care about – from sharing everyday moments on Stories to visual messages on Direct.

But for your smaller circle of friends, we saw the need to stay more connected throughout the day, so you can communicate what you’re doing and how you’re feeling through photos and videos. That’s why we built Threads, a new way to message with close friends in a dedicated, private space.

What the future holds for “Favorites”, only time will tell.

Facebook has tried and failed to launch curated, intimate News Feed experiences for years.

However, alongside the growing privacy focus is a gradual shift in social communications to favour more of a one-to-few dialogue, rather than the historical one-to-many, as attention fragments within platform.

For marketers, the most likely upshot will be either more ads or a significant uptick in social CRM as we head into 2020 and beyond.

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